How to shrink a partition with unmovable files in Windows 7

Posted on April 3rd, 2011 in General by Brandon

For some reason Windows can’t figure out how to move some files around on disk. When attempting to shrink a volume, it will only allow you to shrink it to where the last immovable file is located. These are some things I found necessary to temporarily get rid of those immovable files so that an NTFS volume could be shrunk

1- Disable System Restore (Right click on Computer => Properties => System Protection => System Restore)
2- Disable Virtual Memory (Right click on Comptuer => Properties => Advanced System Settings => Performance (Settings) => Advanced Tab => Virtual Memory (Change) => No Paging File => Set.
3- Run Disk Cleanup to get rid of Thumbnails, Temporary Internet Files, and a bunch of other files that it makes no sense why they are immovable.
4- Restart the computer to have #1 and #2 take effect

Try to shrink the volume again. If it still is unreasonably large, you will then have to look at Event Viewer to find which file is at the boundary.
1- Right click on Computer => Manage => Event Viewer => Windows Logs => Application.
2- Click on Filter Current Log, and put ‘259’ for the Event ID
3- Click on the latest event and look through the detail to find the problematic file. You can then attempt to delete that file (or set of files) manually. You may have to restart into safe mode to delete some files

It took me about 5 loops of doing the above before I was finally able to shrink my volume to the size that I wanted. After successful, you can then re-enable the features that you want (namely System Restore and Virtual Memory)

26 Responses to 'How to shrink a partition with unmovable files in Windows 7'

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  1. Nate Carr said,

    on August 21st, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Great tutorial!

  2. BigBig said,

    on November 29th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks! Useful tips. Trying to clone 500GB system disk to a 250GB Intel510 SSD and needed to re-size partition, but the OS would only let me shrink to 283GB at first..

  3. Rob said,

    on January 5th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks so much for this, it helped me loads, especially the event viewer part. I found I also had system restore and thumbnail files that couldn’t be moved, but using the event log I also found that I needed to disable cryptographic services and then rename/delete the catroot2 folder in system32, and also disable the search service and then delete the CiFiles that the indexer made.

    Until I had done all of those things, it had immovable files after 100gb of free space; afterwards there were none and I could make the partition as tiny as I liked.

  4. Nikhil said,

    on February 16th, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Thanks. It worked for me. Before following your steps, I had only 5GB shrink-able but I turned off the system restore and (without restarting) I got 70GB free.

  5. huts said,

    on March 30th, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Would it work with SBS2011 ???

  6. on November 16th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    […] shrink if there are “unmovable” files: This entry was posted in OS and tagged coffee-there should be some!, facebook, HDD, SSD, WIndows […]

  7. Nikhat said,

    on December 5th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    that helpd me alot..really really great tutorial..!!

  8. Adam said,

    on December 24th, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Another avenue to explore is stopping Cryptographic services. I encountered a problem with this particular file:

    and found a solution here:

  9. Sarah said,

    on August 7th, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Thank you so much,

    This tutorial helped me free up 16G of shrink space when before I was stopped at 0.6. I had to go through the logs to clear out a file, but fortunately only 1 iteration of that freed up the space I needed.

  10. Scoot said,

    on August 10th, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Thanks! This worked for me too. I had to do a couple iterations of running the Shrink application and then checking the log to see why it balked. For me, with Win7(32), I had to disable windows search before it would release a few files.

  11. Hans Verlouw said,

    on August 19th, 2014 at 3:23 am

    Thank you very much! I found these tips after I spent a whole day on this. The solution was to remove the paging file indeed.

  12. Roger said,

    on August 26th, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Good tutorial, also valid for Windows 8.1
    After disabling restore points (it deletes all points created, yes, not a big problem on a fresh Windows installation), it enabled to shrink as much space as was available on my HD.

  13. matt said,

    on November 6th, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    AWESOME!! Worked just disabling restore and virtual memory (but I was starting with a brand new laptop). Before disable windows would only allow me to shrink 350Gb, after disable I was able to squeeze it 650Gb!!


  14. on November 12th, 2014 at 12:54 am

    hiperfile.sys is another big one that will hang you up.
    open a cmd prompt as the Administrator
    powercfg -H OFF
    (note the case)

  15. Nathan said,

    on December 11th, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Also try disabling indexing service as this can generate a large windows.edb file which cannot be moved. It can also be deleted after disabling Indexing service

  16. JP said,

    on January 8th, 2015 at 11:51 am

    My hair was graying (even more) over this problem until I found this tutorial… worked like a charm! Thx!!!

  17. Paul Trotter said,

    on September 25th, 2015 at 9:40 am

    The above tips were really useful but still weren’t enough. I managed to find an application called PerfectDisk that has a free trial and used its defragging and prepare for shink function. That was what finally fixed it for me.

  18. Prabhu said,

    on December 4th, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Buddy – It’s really helped me for my new laptop. Thanks so much.
    Rob’s post also helpful — Thanks Dude.

  19. John Liad said,

    on December 6th, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    i’m not able to delete the files in the event viewer. each time I clear log, the file comes back. please help

  20. TVL said,

    on February 18th, 2016 at 10:50 am

    5 years after the article and still accurate !
    Thank you so much for helping with this problem

  21. Mike said,

    on February 27th, 2016 at 6:18 am

    This worked for me. I found that a lot of the unmovable files were due to a program that was in use. Simply figuring out which program and closing it worked most of the time. For example, having Chrome open to look at this tutorial created some kind of temporary file that wouldn’t go away until I closed the browser. The same was true of a file that collects data about Antimalware – I had to disable Security Essentials for a minute or two so that this file didn’t get in the way. In both cases I didn’t have to delete anything, just close or disable the program that was accessing the files.

    Thanks for this tutorial!

  22. Ari Timonen said,

    on March 8th, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for this.

  23. spearsg said,

    on March 22nd, 2016 at 12:15 am

    Oh heck yes, good job buddy. I’d like to emphasize for others, that I — as you — has to cycle thru the items multiple times, followed by multiple reboots to get success.

    I did not have to go into Event Viewer – but was my next option.

    Alas, the cycles were worth it. I can actually shrink the volume down to actual total file allocated bytes size. (I’m not going to go that low, cuz it would be a little stupid — but can now if I want to) Noice!!!

  24. paul said,

    on March 27th, 2016 at 11:04 am


  25. Rick said,

    on March 28th, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks for the straightforward tutorial. This saved me a lot of time and heartache.

  26. Paul said,

    on May 30th, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Great, been going around in circles till I found this. Took about six goes, but worked a treat!

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